Douglas nips Vikes
MINDEN – It was one heck of a high school baseball game.
South Tahoe’s Chris Barna was thrown out at home plate with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, as the Douglas Tigers held off the Vikings, 7-6, on a warm Tuesday afternoon.
With one out, Barna stroked a double to center. After a Tahoe strikeout, Scott Souers crushed a ball to the Tigers’ shortstop who misplayed it, allowing the Vikes’ catcher a chance to score from the second sack. Barna lumbered around third as the ball was collected and fired home on a line. His head-first dirt cloud was met by a tag in the back, ending Tahoe’s comeback bid.
“We had every chance to win it,” said Tahoe coach Ralph Clelan, who had previously pinch-run for Barna but was limited by his bench in the final frame. “But everybody’s start to hit the ball. It’s coming together. We’ll get them in our yard.”
Douglas’ Jared Hackler, a junior transfer from South Tahoe who was celebrating his 17th birthday, worked one-and-two-thirds to get the save.
The Vikes scored first, as Adam Heggen lined a single and plated on a Scott Fair single in the top of the first off Douglas’s Kevin Doyle. The Tigers quickly answered, jumping on Tahoe starter Bret Uppendahl in their half with three runs on a pair of hits and a hit-and-run.
But Uppendahl, who was clocked in the mid-70s on a field-side radar gun, settled down to allow just one unearned run while keeping the ball down during the next two innings.
Tahoe mounted its first comeback of the day in the top of the fourth. Down 4-2, Uppendahl helped his cause with a leadoff single. After Greg Bruso and Barna both flied out on “just missed” cuts, Carson Triggs pushed Uppendahl to second with a single. Both guys advanced on a Souers walk, which loaded the bases for Heggen. The junior promptly stroked a single to right, pushing across Uppendahl and Triggs to tie it at 4.
“I was really into the game today,” said Heggen, who was 3 for 4 with three RBIs. “The ball seemed like it was moving in slow motion and I just hit it. Today was one of those good days.”
But the tie game was short-lived, as Douglas touched Uppendahl for three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Sophomore Bruce Jacobsen, who crushed a two-run triple in the first, led the charge with a solo home run. Bruso replaced Uppendahl with two outs and retired the side.
“I may have left him in one hitter too many. But I have faith in him and he said he could go,” said Clelan of his starting pitcher. “He just got the ball up. He’ll learn from the mistake.”
Down 7-4, Tahoe saddled its second rally in the top of the sixth. Barna doubled down the left field line and moved to third on a Triggs sacrifice fly. Souers added a single to left, advancing to second on the throw, which put runners on second and third with one out. Heggen strolled to the dish and stroked a single to right, scoring Triggs. Cory Brown followed with a single through the right side, which collected Souers and cut the lead to one.
The rally continued in the sixth, as Fair singled to left, pushing Heggen to third. Some observers thought Heggen should have turned for home on the hit, but he was held at third base. Uppendahl grabbed a stick with the bases loaded and two down, putting it in play to short, and nearly beat a bang-bang look at first.
“The ball was hit hard and their kid was playing short,” said Clelan about the decision not to send Heggen. “We had good hitters coming up. I thought we’d give them a shot at it.”
Bruso kept it close for Tahoe, setting down Douglas in order in two full innings of work, including striking out the side in the bottom of the sixth.
Tahoe (1-3, 4-4 overall) travels to Carson on Thursday.
South Tahoe’s junior varsity lost to Douglas, 15-4.
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